New England Congregationalists

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Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Does anyone have any detail (also interested in resources, especially online) on how members of English or other established churches viewed New England Congregationalists? I am especially interested in whether they were viewed as true churches. I am also interested in whether members of congregational churches would have been allowed communion the in the established churches of Europe.

Here is an excerpt from a statement by Rutherford about New England Congregationalists in a PCA position paper.


To use terminology developed later, the church is visible both as an organism and as an institution. As stated by Berkhof:


The Church as an organism is the coetus fidelium, the communion of believers, who are united in the bond of the Spirit, while the church as an institution is the mater fidelium, the mother of believers, a Heilsanstalt, a means of salvation, an agency for the conversion of sinners and the perfecting of saints.


Such appears to have been the view of Samuel Rutherford, one of the delegates of the Church of Scotland to the Westminster Assembly. Writing in 1644 (with reference to the New England congregational churches' refusal to admit to sealing ordinances believers coming over from old England who were not members of the particular churches they were attending in New England) Rutherford said:


We hold that those who profess faith in Christ, to be members of the visible Congregation, and that the seals of the Covenant should not be denied to them.

Scott
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
I can point you to some resources. How's this for a title?

RUTHERFORD, SAMUEL, A Survey of the Survey of that Summe of Church-Discipline Penned by Mr. Richard Hooker, Late Pastor of the Church at Hartford upon Connecticut in New England. Wherein The Way of the Churches in N. England is now re-examined; Arguments in favour thereof winnowed; The Principles of that Way discussed; and the Reasons of most seeming strength and nerves removed (1658)

Check out this link for this and other such resources: http://www.swrb.com/Puritan/presbyterian-independents.htm
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Andrew - you da' man! That looks right on point, if a bit overkill. I also hate reading the photocopies of the original works. I may see if it is available somewhere in a normal print version.
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
BTW, do you know if people like Rutherford viewed these congregations as true churches, just in error on government?
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by Scott
BTW, do you know if people like Rutherford viewed these congregations as true churches, just in error on government?

Scott,

I'm looking into this matter. It may take a little time to respond fully. Preliminarily, I think there is a sense in which he argued that Independents/Congregationalists self-excommunicate themselves from the rest of the body of Christ. Yet, I don't think he would go so far as to declare them to be synagogues of Satan or anything like that. In the Westminster Assembly, there were Independents and there were Presbyterians. If he felt like Independents/Congregationalists were not part of the true Church, I don't think he would have participated. But that's just my initial response. I'll see what I find from his own words.
 

AdamM

Puritan Board Freshman
Thomas Hooker and John Cotton were two of the most well respected Puritans of their era on both sides of the Atlantic. The quotes I'll look up when I get the chance from other Purtians (Presbyterians) will dispell any notion that they considered men like Hooker has having excommunicated themselves from the church.

Thomas Hooker was a leader in the area of government as well. In May of 1638 he was asked to address the General Court of Connecticut which apparently had been given the responsibility of drafting a constitution. It was there he preached his famous sermon on Deuteronomy 1:13: Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. "In this sermon he laid down three doctrines. Doctrine I. That the choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God's own allowance. Doctrine II. That the privilege of election which belongs unto the people must not be exercised according to their humour, but according to the blessed will of God. Doctrine III. That they who have the power to appoint officers and magistrates, it is in their power also to set the bounds of the power and the place unto which they call them."10 In January 1639 the "Fundamental Orders" were adopted, serving as the constitution of Connecticut. Thomas Hooker's leadership and influence in the final document has been recognized by historians.
Hooker's reputation remained strong even in England
and in the summer of 1642 letters arrived at Boston invit-ing Thomas Hooker, John Davenport, and John Cotton to represent New England at the Westminster Assembly of Divines. Hooker declined to attend although he apparently tried to have an influence on the assembly by the publication of two books and a catechism in London in 1645. The books were A Brief Exposition of the Lord's Prayer and Heaven's Treasury Opened in a Faithful Exposition of the Lord's Prayer. The catechism was entitled An Exposition of the Principles of Religion.
Hooker was a man given to much prayer. Cotton Mather reports, "He would say, 'That prayer was the principal part of a minister's work; 'twas by this, that he was to carry on the rest.' Accordingly, he still devoted one day in a month to private prayer, with fasting, before the Lord, besides the publick fasts, which often occurred unto him. He would say, 'That such extraordinary favours, as the life of religion, and the power of godliness, must be preserved by the frequent use of such extraordinary means as prayer with fasting; and that if professors grow negligent of these means, iniquity will abound, and the love of many wax cold.'"11
Mr. Henry Whitfield a godly man who knew the most considerable divines in England, after becoming acquainted with Thomas Hooker wrote, "I did not think," says he, "there had been such a man on the earth, in whom shone so many incomparable excellencies; and in whom learning and wisdom were so admirably tempered with zeal, holiness, and watchfulness."12
Thomas Hooker died a victim of an epidemic sickness on July 7, 1647. "When one that stood weeping by the bed-side said unto him, 'Sir, you are going to receive the reward of all your labours,' he replied, 'Brother, I am going to receive mercy!'"13 Cotton Mather called him "the Light of the Western Churches." Dr. Thomas Goodwin said of him, "if
any of our late Preachers and Divines came in the Spirit and power of John Baptist this man did."14
There is no known portrait of Thomas Hooker. A statue which has stood by the Old Connecticut State House near the site of the First Meeting House of the Hartford church, was made by comparing the likenesses of his descendants.
Some of his numerous works include The Poor Doubting Christian Drawn to Christ (1629), The Soul's Preparation for Christ (1632), The Soul's Humiliation (1637), The Soul's Ingrafting into Christ (1637), The Soul's Exaltation (1638), The Christian's Two Chief Lessons (1640), An Expostion of the Principles of Religion (1645), A Brief Exposition of the Lord's Prayer (1645), A Survey of the Summe of Church Discipline (1648), The Saint's Dignitie and Dutie (1651), and The Application of Redemption (1656-57).




[Edited on 20-1-2005 by AdamM]
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Thanks Adam and Andrew. I too think it is significant that these men were invited to the Assembly.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
There were also prominent New England divines well known and received by old England. John Cotton, Thomas Hooker, john Davenort, and Sir henry Vane were part of the Westminster Assembly. Increase Mather was also well known and recieved, and was a particular friend of Richard Baxter. And of course, Edwards was also becoming popular both in England and Scotland towards the end of his life.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
A point of clarification to my earlier post: The title of Rutherford's treatise references Richard Hooker, but I believe Thomas Hooker is the person he intended to reference. Richard Hooker was the notable Anglican who defended Anglican worship and polity.
 

AdamM

Puritan Board Freshman
I think part of the difficulty comes in trying to define who exactly is a "New England Puritan." Hooker & Cotton are two good examples. Both trained in England and ministered on both sides of the Atlantic, which wasn't unusual in that era. Then after the 1662 Act of Uniformity the situation gets even more complex with 2000 Puritans being tossed out of of their pulpits and made "independents" in a sense. Additionally, the minsiterial associations in New England fucntioned *sort* of like Presbyteries back then.

For what it's worth, here is an excert from an artcile written by Iain Murray on Thomas Hooker that I found helpful too:

June 1631 found Hooker in the Netherlands, his wife and children meanwhile being cared for, it seems, on the Earl of Warwick's estate at Great Waltham. Two things marked Hooker's stay in the Netherlands, first his harmonious assistantship to the exiled Scots minister, John Forbes, who ministered to English-speaking merchants in the Prinsenhof Church at Delft, and, second, his meeting and friendship with the great William Ames, whom he had last seen in Cambridge in 1610. If Ames remembered the young Fellow of Emmanuel he certainly found him now to be a different man. Cotton Mather records Ames' assertion that 'though he had been acquainted with many scholars of divers nations, yet he never met with Mr Hooker's equal, either for preaching or for disputing'. These were memorable words in a generation of men who were not given to praising one another.

In March, 1633, or thereabouts, Hooker left Delft for Rotterdam and appears to have made a short visit to England to ascertain both for himself and Forbes the prospect in New England. It may well have been shortly before that visit that he wrote to John Cotton (in hiding in England), advising him that he saw no cause to encourage fellow countrymen to settle in the Netherlands and going on to speak of his own perplexity in knowing the guidance of God:

My ague yet holds me. The ways of God's providence, wherein he has walked towards me in this long time of my sickness and wherein I have drawn forth many wearyish hours under his Almighty hand (Blessed be his Name!), together with pursuits and banishment which have waited upon me, as one wave follows another, have driven me to an amazement, his paths being too secret and past finding out by such an ignorant, worthless worm as myself. I have looked over my heart, and life, according to my measure, aimed and guessed as well as I could, and entreated his Majesty to make known his mind, wherein I missed. And yet methinks I cannot spell out readily the purpose of his proceedings, which, I confess, have been wonderful in miseries and more than wonderful in mercies to me and mine.

Probably Hooker's visit to England decided his mind as he met and conferred with old friends. The emigration to New England of which he had spoken publicly in 1631 was quickening in pace. A number of his Essex hearers and converts were already at Mount Wollaston in Massachusetts Bay by August 1632, being known as 'Mr Hooker's company'. Others were ready to leave. These former hearers pressed him to join them, and to bring Samuel Stone with him as an assistant. When 'aged and holy Mr Forbes', as Mather calls him, heard the hopeful news when Hooker returned to the Netherlands he nevertheless decided to stay in the land where he was to die in 1634. In the early summer of 1633 Hooker was back in England, experiencing escapes from arrest which were not due to any lack of effort on the part of the authorities. At length with his wife and their children, with John Cotton, Samuel Stone, and some 200 others they sailed from the Downs on the Griffin in July, 1633. 'None but Mr Stone was owned for a preacher at their first coming abroad,' writes Mather, 'the other two delaying to take their turns in the publick worship of the ship till they were got so far into the main ocean that they might with safety discover [reveal] who they were.'

Forty-eight years old when he arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, on September 4, 1633, Hooker and Stone first served the church formed at Newtown (Cambridge) and then, in July, 1636, removed to Hartford where, in due course, the new colony of Connecticut was formed beside the river from whence it took its name. Differences in opinion between Hooker and some of the leaders in Boston undoubtedly contributed to the decision to remove further from the Bay. These differences did not concern the doctrine of conversion or the fundamentals of the gospel; on these things Hooker ever remained in union with his brethren; they had to do rather with the political policy in Massachusetts. The counsel which prevailed in Boston, influenced by the assumption that at various points a Christian state should follow the Old Testament theocracy, restricted suffrage to church members and was ready to deal with differences of religious opinion by force of law. Hooker saw the error in this thinking. Along with all Puritans, 'Hooker held that the care of the Church was the first duty of the magistrate, and that civil laws for the support of a chosen Church were salutary for both Church and State. But,' writes Sanford H. Cobb, 'he never attempted to blend the two together'. The existence of greater religious liberty in Connecticut is directly attributable to the man whom Mather calls 'the chief instrument' in its beginning.

His wisdom on the state and church issue was not to be the principal thing for which Hooker was to be remembered after his death in July, 1647. As with Paul, the chief commendation of his ministry, was supplied by the men and women who had become 'the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God'. In the opinion of Winthrop, noted in his journal, at the time of the passing of New England's 'Luther': 'The fruits of his labours in both Englands shall preserve an honourable and happy remembrance of him forever'. This brings us back, then, to the subject of conversion and to the preaching which was the instrument of drawing many to Christ. We have already noted how Samuel Collins, Laud's informer, warned that even with Hooker silenced in Chelmsford 'his genius will still haunt all the pulpits in the country'. What that 'genius' was, in respect to the preaching of the gospel, it remains for us to consider.


[Edited on 20-1-2005 by AdamM]
 
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